Authenticity. It’s something we’re all feeling a bit more of these days thanks to the non-existent work/home divide – and to say it’s great is an understatement.
At Write the Talk, we’ve virtually taught toddlers u-rated words, introduced our cats to our dogs, hijacked team catch ups with yoga sessions (now that workwear is gym wear, crow pose is super easy), trialled family quiz questions and most recently were banned from saying ‘egg’ over Zoom for fear someone’s toddler would hear what lunch was and throw a paddy until they got it – cooked or not.
We’re getting to know each other’s personalities, our characters, the non-work related skills we haven’t revealed before and the socially distanced adventures that occupy our lives right now.
We’re rediscovering each other, ourselves and our purpose. And we’re feeling more connected now than ever before.
And it’s not just at work. One of our fundamental human traits is the need to share our lives – Facebook asks what’s on our mind, Instagram encourages us to share stories and Twitter asks us what’s happening. We crave that humanness, that connection that brings us closer to others.
So what’s my point?
Imagine what would happen if businesses took a leaf out of humanity’s book and shared more of their authentic selves. If they shared more about what was happening behind the scenes, what they cared about, what journey they were on, their successes and their near misses, what keeps them up at night and how they’re going to solve it.
Employees, customers, partners could relate to that, form more of an unconscious bond with them, and believe in their values and purpose.
Authenticity gives businesses an identity, one that differentiates them from competitors and inspires people to believe in their brand. It transforms products into experiences.
Think about Nike. They don’t just sell trainers – they sell the ability to run faster, to help people feel healthier and to make a huge difference to the wellbeing of the world. People want to feel that, to feel part of a community – and any business can give them that satisfaction. It just takes a bit of humanness to bring it to life (and this handy listicle).
#1) Rediscover your why
What’s your purpose, your mission? A bank doesn’t just sell financial products to people. It gives people reassurance that their money is safe, which means they can get on with living their lives without financial worry. A gym doesn’t just sell memberships to people, they’re selling a lifestyle, an opportunity to feel better, meet with like-minded people, be inspired to get healthier and ignite a passion they’ll share with their families.
What is your purpose beyond selling products or services? What are you enabling people to do?
#2) Get your story straight
And then tell people about it consistently. Clear, distinct branding, visually and verbally, differentiates you from the crowd. It means people recognise you and trust you.
One of my favourites at the moment is the chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely. Their purpose is to eradicate slavery in the chocolate industry and they’re branding is instantly recognisable across all their social media platforms and in every post. The character of their business comes over as caring, compassionate, determined to make a difference and they believe in the absolute importance of what they do. They’re a source of news about the chocolate industry and they exude the authenticity that makes people want to buy their products and help towards this cause (and their chocolate is amazing, too!)
#3) Share your story far and wide
Do what Facebook, Twitter and Instagram want you to do and share your true story.
Tell people about the amazing charity work you’re doing, share videos of employees doing extraordinary things, give advice to people for free, hold events that provide people with an experience to remember.
These make your business unique. This is why your employees are proud to work for you, to be a part of your business. This is what will keep customers coming back for more.
Authenticity is the catalyst for happiness and success. At home and in the office. And given that they’re one and the same these days, there’s no excuse not to pinpoint what makes you authentic and share it with the world.
Even if it’s parading your favourite and dangerously loud Hawaiian print shirt on your next Zoom call.